R: Jordan Michilot / P: Ryan Paul
Words: Matty V.
Kids from Minnesota love Sailor Jerry’s, porn, and a bunch of other weird crap. They like buying knives, they smell like shit, and they have retarded amounts of energy. Whenever I tell someone that lives in the mountains that I’m from Minnesota they get all crusty and tell me about how superior they are because they grew up in the mountains and they ride the sickest powder lines ever, and that riding rails isn’t really snowboarding. Then I tell them that I would be happy to take them to the top of a triple kink and see how ill they really are, and remind them that Guch hit rails, this is when they usually sulk off into the distance.
R: Cody Beiersdorf / P: Ryan Paul
Regardless of what your stance is on what is and isn’t snowboarding, the bottom line is that Minnesota has produced some of the best snowboarders in the industry and one film production company has been behind the scenes helping young Mid West riders find their niche and take their talents to a worldwide level. Chad Otterstrom, Erik and Bjorn Leines, Dan Brisse, Zac Marben, Jonas and Jordan Michilot, Ricky Tucker, Joe Sexton, Jake Olson-Elm, Mike Casanova, John Makens, Ryan Paul and pretty much every other Minnesota rider you have ever heard of came up under their wing. Bald E Gal Productions has been sitting outside in the cold pointing their cameras at Mid West snowboarders for 10 years now.
R: Austin Young / P: Ryan Paul
Every summer since the inception of Bald E Gal the boys from the frozen tundra load up their vehicles and head deep into the Montana/Wyoming wilderness to Beartooth pass, aka Top of The World. While you sit around the pool and bronze like a Jersey Shore cast member, these dudes are getting raw at 10,000 feet where it's still winter, and the threat of being raped by a bear is a constant danger. This year Bald E Gal's mastermind Mike Thienes called me up and asked me to tag along, I accepted the invite and the madness began.
R: Will Bateman / P: Ryan Paul
First off Billings Montana looks like a bad episode of Cops, and you can bet that smoking Meth is a socially accepted past time in this town. As I sat at the airport waiting for my boys to pick me up I realized one thing, Montana is still the Wild West, at least compared to most over populated metropolitan areas. Airport security even let a guy bring a bullwhip on the plane home.
R: Cody Beiersdorf / P: Ryan Paul
Once scooped we began the journey to Cooke City, Montana, no cell service and nothing but gas station food and shredding for the next five days. The first day the pass was closed and we quickly realized we weren't at summer camp, there was not going to be any riding in tank tops and fraternizing with attractive rich girls on this trip. We spent the majority of our first day hiking and setting up some potential spots while waiting for the rest of our crew to show up. We found some epic shit and the young bucks set up a jump to rock ride landing, let the sketchiness begin.
R: Jonas Michilot / P: Pete Harvieux
The rest of the crew showed up and instead of hiking up to where we had built some features they decided to sit around the car set up a weird pole jam type thing and start drinking. Most of these dudes have spent the whole winter breaking themselves off filming for their video parts, and the tone of the trip was quickly set, yes we were going to get some shots, but this trip is really about having a blast with your homies.
That’s the secret to the Minnesota snowboard scene, it’s a tight group of friends who would rather have fun being creative and laugh at each other than try to kill themselves a la Evil Knievel every time they strap in. Don’t get me wrong they step to gnarly shit all winter, but they also live by one simple rule; if you ain't having fun then what's the point?
R: Shane Ruprecht / P: Pete Harvieux
As I awoke on the second day I found a number of bodies passed out in the middle of our hotel hallway, amongst foul smelling boots, discarded beer cans, and rotting food. By the end of day two we would have one rider missing his front teeth, a botched medical procedure on a large head cyst, and enough memories to guarantee that I will be making the journey next year.
Check Back For Part 2 and 3.